Storied, flood-damaged park to re-open by end of year
A historical and natural jewel in the city of Calgary, Bowness Park is expected to be once again open to the public by the end of the year.
In the midst of a $12 million redevelopment project, the park was one of the areas hit hardest by June 2013 flooding. Debris lined the canal, a mainstay for winter skating, silt covered the entire park and boulders almost a metre high rolled into roadways and parking lots.
“We got hit very, very hard last June and we are still in the process of getting that flood damage cleaned up and getting the construction back on track,” said Doug Marter, manager, planning and development services for City of Calgary Parks.
Original park redevelopment began in March 2012 as part of the community investment fund, a City initiative putting money into community improvements such as libraries, recreation centres, parks and emergency services. In the case of Bowness Park, redevelopment plans included a new central pedestrian area, riverbank restoration and the addition of interpretive signage and historic elements to celebrate the parks history. Crews were about 50 per cent into the development when the floods hit, so had to start from scratch, plus flood remediation and rebuilding.
In the process of both flood clean up and continued redevelopment, Marter said crews were slowed by cold winter temperatures and a wet spring but progress is now around 60 per cent complete. Crews are still waiting on new grass to germinate and grow before public can enter and the park is also without electricity still.
“Bowness Park sits lower than the surrounding areas so we can’t open our washrooms because we rely on a lift station to pump sewage out of the park and until we get power back we can’t get those washrooms up and running and they have to be refurbished as well,” said Marter.
Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland said he receives calls on a daily basis from residents wondering when the park will reopen.
“I’m just telling people ‘Hey we need to do it right, you’ve got to understand the damage’,” he said. “And when I explain it in detail they say ‘Oh that makes sense, I’d rather see a good park” so people have been very supportive. They’re disappointed but they’re saying ‘Okay we’ve got to do it right’.”
In the meantime, Sutherland said he’s directing people to use nearby Baker Park until Bowness is back up and running. Marter said flood clean up for the park cost about $3.2 million.